How Nails Can Give You Clues About Your Health

life hacks

| LAST UPDATE 05/27/2022

By Zoe Browning
clear nails sign health
@lafille_studio via Instagram

We love a good mani-pedi sesh, but did you know that underneath your cute gel polish could be signals from your body about your health? By now, thanks to the plethora of health information given to us on TikTok, you may already know that when there are problems on the inside of our bodies, they can be reflected through the outside. For example, hormonal acne is a sign of hormonal imbalance. But did you know that our nail beds can also be trying to tell us something? Here's what differences on top of your nails can mean, according to Joshua Zeichner, MD, the Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at Mount Sinai Hospital's Department of Dermatology.

Although you may have blamed your nail technician for a dip in your nail, it may actually have something to do with autoimmune disease. "If you have pits or divots in your nails, it may be a sign of an underlying autoimmune condition. Conditions like psoriasis and alopecia have been shown to be associated with nail changes," Zeichner explained. "When there is inflammation in the nail matrix, which is the area just underneath your cuticle where the nail itself is produced, the nail doesn't develop properly and can lead to pits."

nail health signs meaning
@nails_lasalyis_ via Instagram
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Different colors can also mean different things. If you spot a yellow mark, it is "typically a sign of staining from dark polish. However, in some cases, yellow nails may be caused by thickening of the nails associated with conditions like thyroid disease, diabetes, or fungal infections of the nail itself." But if there are black streaks, it could "be a sign of melanoma. Melanoma is a potentially deadly form of skin cancer caused by an overgrowth of pigment-producing cells. In some cases, it can actually grow under the nail. So if you see a new black blotch under the nail, visit your dermatologist for evaluation," revealed the dermatologist. "The most common cause of a rapid-onset black blotch is trauma and a resulting bruise under the nail. But you should always make sure it's not something else. If the cuticle is turning black, that is a worrisome sign."

Lastly, if the front part of your nail seems to be slowly disappearing, it may be time to head to a doctor's office. "If you have lost the half-moon at the base of your nails, it may be a sign of malnutrition or anemia. Touch base with your doctor for some blood tests to evaluate whether there are any underlying issues." Check out Zeichen's Instagram for more tips about your health and body. 

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